Monthly Archives: April 2006

DWTS Offseason Update: 4-28-06

Stacy Named One of People’s Most Beautiful
People magazine’s annual Most Beautiful People issue hit newsstands today, and Stacy Keibler cracked this year’s top 100. Editor Jess Cagle told The Early Show that Stacy “probably has the best legs of anyone on the list.”

Dancing Pays Better Than Wrestling
Stacy was paid more for reaching the finals on DWTS than she earned as a professional wrestler in the WWE. While Drew’s said that celebrities deserve a lot more money for participating, dancing sure beats getting hit with a folding chair.

Will Harry Hamlin Dance in Season 3?
USA Today reported that Harry Hamlin is nervous about taking the floor for DWTS 3. But E’s Kristin Veitch pointed out in a recent chat that Harry won’t know the fate of his Veronica Mars character Aaron Echolls until the CW network decides if it will pick up that show for another season. Harry may not be able to compete and film Veronica at the same time.

Start Date for DWTS 3
In the same chat with Kristin, she said that Carrie Ann Inaba was still unsure when the new season would start filming. But Howard Stern reported last week when he disclosed the contract offer made to his girlfriend, Beth Ostrosky, that DWTS will return on September 13, with shows moving to Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Carrie Ann – Supermodel
On May 3, Virgin Megastores celebrates the expansion of its clothing department with a celebrity fashion show, including DWTS judge Carrie Ann. Unfortunately, the event at the Virgin Megastore in Hollywood is for press only.

Interview with Lisa Rinna
Lisa talks about the dance studio she plans to open with Louis van Amstel in this interview with People.

How Hard Could It Be? (Episode 12-11)

This week, Cirie caught her first fish after asking herself, “How hard could it
be?” Fishing’s easy: be patient, and be smarter than the fish. Cirie then applied the same logic to Survivor and, by the episode’s end, she had masterfully engineered Courtney’s ouster.

was obvious that Cirie was a good deal smarter than at least one of her
competitors. Shane spent the morning of day 28 pretending that a piece
of wood was a BlackBerry email device. Too bad his son never actually
received the “omg britneys mebbe prego agin! o rly? YA RLY! lol @ teh o
rly owl!” message Shane thought he was sending.

At the Reward
Challenge, castaways were split into two teams: Cirie, Aras, and Shane
vs. Terry, Danielle, and Courtney. Each individual was hooked to a
rope, which they followed into the water over and under a series of
obstacles. At the end, they each unhooked from the rope, retrieved a
bag from under the water, clipped back onto the rope, and navigated
their way back to the beach.

Halfway through the obstacle
portion, Cirie, Aras, and Shane became tangled in the rope, with no
chance of catching up. The winning team sent Aras to Exile Island, and
Cirie and Shane headed back to camp.

Terry, Danielle, and
Courtney were ready to enjoy their reward, a barbecue on a private
island, when Jeff Probst announced that they would immediately play a
second Reward Challenge. The first person to break three tiles using a
slingshot won a GMC Yukon. Of course, Terry won.

Upon reaching
the private island, the winners cruised around in Terry’s new SUV —
which he called “righteous” — before enjoying their feast. Terry
suggested to Courtney and Danielle that they team up, taking Cirie with
them to the final four and voting Aras out as soon as possible.

agreed, but Danielle wasn’t so sure she wanted to make things so easy
for Terry. The odds of one of the women beating him in the final three
challenge would be slim. And after last week’s question-answer
challenge revealed that no one likes Courtney, she, and not Danielle,
would be Terry’s obvious choice for an opponent to take to the final

Back at camp, Cirie decided to try her hand at fishing,
after her snail dinner crawled out of the cooking pot. The same woman
who said on day one that she was afraid of leaves cracked open a
snail’s shell, used it to bait a hook, and then landed the biggest fish
caught this season.

She did squeal in disgust the whole time,
and she held the fish at arms length yelling, “Is it dead yet?” and
“Somebody help me!” as she walked back to camp. But, once there, she
acted like the brave huntress she wanted the others to see her as.
Cirie and Shane waited to show her prize to the three reward winners
before eating the fish.

On the morning of the Immunity
Challenge, Danielle voiced her concerns to Terry about his final two
strategy. He said he’d agree to taking the second place finisher of the
last immunity challenge to the final vote if he won, provided she agree
to do the same. She did, and went to tell the other ladies of the new

They weren’t as thrilled as she was. Danielle explained to
Courtney that the strategy rewarded hard work, which Courtney
interpreted (correctly) to mean that she wasn’t considered a hard
worker or a tough competitor. And Cirie simply didn’t believe Terry
would honor the deal, not when he could easily beat Courtney in the
final vote. Plus, Cirie knew the new alliance would likely put her in
fourth place.

Strategy talk was put on hold for the Immunity
Challenge. Each contestant knelt on a plank suspended over water and
held onto two ropes that held the equivalent of 20% of their own body
weight. Every 15 minutes, 10% of their weight would be added to the
ropes. Once they let go of the ropes, they would fall into the water,
eliminating them from the challenge.

Shane had a poor grip on
his ropes, losing one and then the other before any additional weight
was added. Once 15 minutes elapsed and contestants had to hold up 30%
of their weight, Cirie took a dive, followed by Danielle and Aras.

and Courtney were evenly matched until 30 minutes elapsed and 10% more
weight was added, for a total of 40%. The weight began to pull Courtney
up off of her knees, and she lasted less than a minute before losing
her grip. Terry won again, saving his hidden Immunity Idol for another
day and forcing the original members of Casaya to vote out one of their

Upon returning to camp, Cirie executed one of the smartest and most complex voting strategies ever used on Survivor: she successfully convinced the members of three alliances that she was with them solidly.

First, Cirie dealt with Courtney, consenting to vote with her, Danielle, and Terry to eliminate Aras.

and Cirie then met with Aras and Shane, their original alliance, and
both agreed to vote for Danielle. Secretly, Courtney still planned to
vote for Aras. But unknown to anyone else (yet), Cirie had no
intentions of letting either Danielle or Aras go.

At this point,
Shane was sure that four votes would be cast for Danielle, while Terry
and Courtney believed that four votes would be cast for Aras.

that Shane and Terry wanted Courtney as their opponent in the final
two, Cirie was determined that Courtney must go. Cirie pulled Aras and
Danielle aside and told them that the three of them needed to vote for
Courtney, since the other three votes were split between Danielle and

Aras, Cirie’s ally from the beginning, agreed to the plan.
Mindful of Danielle’s skittish nature, Cirie convinced Danielle that
her only way to guarantee lasting another day was to vote for Courtney.
And Cirie emphasized that they could not tell anyone of their new plan,
especially Shane, unless they wanted him to lose his mind.

new alliance of three kept their game faces on, surprising Shane,
Terry, and especially Courtney at Tribal Council. By successfully
deceiving the members of two alliances, Cirie’s brilliantly engineered
scheme rivalled Rob Cesternino’s plan to boot Alex from Survivor: Amazon — to this point, the benchmark for Survivor strategy.

week, Aras and Cirie try to smooth things over with Shane. But how
stressed can Cirie be, knowing she just made it a lot harder for Shane
or Terry to win, and a lot easier for herself?

Some Bedouin Lovin’ (Episode 9-9)

BJ & Tyler crawled out of last place to hang on for one more week of The Amazing Race. But Fran & Barry fell behind in Australia and were eliminated.

teams left the Pit Stop in Oman, the penniless Hippies begged rival
teams for money, threatening to use a future Yield on any team that
didn’t pay up. Fran & Barry and Ray & Yolanda each chipped in,
but Monica & Joseph felt insulted and only added a blank sheet of
paper to the pile of cash.

At least Eric & Jeremy had the courtesy to write a $100 IOU on their hotel stationery.

& Barry were first to leave at 5:35 p.m., nearly three hours ahead
of the last-place Hippies. The clue instructed teams to head to the
Muscat airport and fly to Perth, Australia. Only one flight left that
evening, so there was a good chance the Hippies wouldn’t make it.

four lead teams had there own troubles making the flight. They all got
stuck in a traffic jam, thanks to the King of Oman’s arrival in town.
By the time the Hippies hit the road, they weren’t in a rush anyway, so
they stopped to pick up a hitchhiker: a Bedouin named Abdul Hamid.

a gas station, their new buddy Abdul paid for gas, mango juice, and
candy bars for the Hippies. He touched foreheads and noses with Tyler,
in the Bedouin version of “good-bye.” Feeling left out, BJ asked, “Can
I get some Bedouin lovin’?” Abdul obliged, and the Hippies were on
their way.

The first four teams were seated on the plane and
celebrating the Hippies demise, when BJ & Tyler boarded the plane
just before takeoff. Fran & Barry and Ray & Yolanda were the
only teams to even acknowledge the boys. Joseph just muttered, “I hate
the Hippies.”

Teams arrived in Perth, where they waited
overnight for a 7:30 a.m. ferry from Fremantle to Rottnest Island. They
rode tandem bikes up to a lighthouse where they found a Detour clue,
directing them to a nearby beach.

The Frat Guys reached the
beach first, electing to do a Detour called “Sea.” They swam into the
ocean and searched 50 crayfish pots, some stocked and some not. Each
member returned to the beach with one crayfish, as the clue had
specified. The task was easy, and they laughed at the teams who had
chosen the other Detour.

“Sand” required teams to drag heavy
branches across the beach and pile them up. It was especially tiring
after a long bike ride, and worse because teams had to bike back into
town when finished. The Hippies, Fran & Barry, and Ray &
Yolanda all completed the task.

Monica & Joseph got lost on
their way the beach, and then misread their clue and collected only one
crayfish, total, before having to go back out in the water to fetch a
second. Joseph poetically said, “We are the kings of not reading the
clue right and stuff.”

Back in Fremantle, the Frat Guys caught
an early ferry that got them to their next destination, Fremantle
Prison, 45 minutes ahead of the other teams. This was good for Jeremy,
who spent almost an hour wandering around lost before he finished his

One member of each team searched prison cells for a
Major Brand Name Sponsor’s flashlight with Major Brand Name Sponsor
batteries, and then found a hidden entrance to some underground tunnels
that contained the next clue. By the time the second team arrived,
Jeremy was still looking for the entrance to the tunnels.

he eventually found the tunnels, he was given a choice of spelunking
through a dry cave or canoeing through a flooded cave for clues. Jeremy
canoed the entire route without finding a clue. When he disembarked and
ran through the other cave, he found a clue almost immediately.

Frats and MoJo were just as stingy with accurate information as they
were with their money. Joseph wouldn’t tell Tyler if he was searching
the right prison cells for flashlights, and Jeremy recommended that
Joseph search the tunnels using a canoe.

The location of the Pit
Stop was only 1.5 miles away, and locals told Eric & Jeremy to walk
to it. After wandering for a while, they realized they should’ve hailed
a cab, but they couldn’t find one that was available. They arrived at
the Fremantle Sailing Club just as Monica & Joseph pulled up in a

Both teams sprinted to the finish mat, with the Frats
narrowly beating MoJo. Phil told Eric & Jeremy they’d won a trip to
Hong Kong for finishing in first place. Gracious loser Joseph punched
Jeremy in the arm.

Tyler and Yolanda held on to the spirit of
cooperation and worked together to find the entrance to the tunnels.
When Yolanda found her clue, she yelled, “I’m a badass bitch!” Fran was
last to the tunnels.

The last three teams all cabbed it to the
Pit Stop, with the Hippies arriving in third and Ray & Yolanda in
fourth. Fran & Barry arrived last and were told that it was an
elimination leg. They said they look forward to being one of those cute
old couples that walks around holding hands, but not for another 30
years or so.

Next week, teams wade into croc-infested waters, and the feud between MoJo and the Hippies intensifies.

A Wonderful Collage Do-Hickey (Episode 4-7)

Filler material dominated the second to last episode of Nashville Star
, but all of the remaining contestants eventually performed. It was then announced that Nicole Jamrose had miraculously avoided elimination, even after her poor performance last week. Waylon Jennings wannabe Matt Mason took the fall instead.

In addition to the usual guest
performance that allows me time to prepare a snack (this week was Hank
Williams Jr.), Wynonna’s prettier, younger sister Ashley came by to
give Wy a sorry excuse for an award. In honor of the occasion, Wynonna
decided to wear her girdle on the outside of her clothes.

record label created a video montage of her, which Ashley introduced by
mentioning the “obnoxious” 40 million records Wy’s sold. When
presenting the award, a framed collection of photos of Wynonna, Ashley
said, “Here’s a wonderful collage do-hickey.” I’m sure it was the
touching moment the label had hoped for.

All of the contestants
returned home this past week to perform at charity events organized by
State Farm. It was a particularly special trip for Nicole, who
celebrated her appointment as Hospitality Ambassador for Lake County,
Indiana with a trip to the state’s finest eating establishment, Red
Lobster. It’s one of the few Indiana restaurants that require both
shoes and shirt for service, so you know it’s fancy.

gave good performances, which they should if they’re the four best
singers. Casey lost points when he went for cheap votes and “gave the
glory to God” after performing one of God’s biggest hits, “How Great
Thou Art.” I’d like to know if God gets an equal share of the blame
when Casey has an off night.

Inexplicably, Scott Weiland and
Duff McKagan served as guest judges. Duff, who is Keanu Reeves’s blond
doppelganger, deserves props for actually watching the show – he told
Nicole her performance tonight was better than last week’s.

Weiland was largely unintelligible, uttering more, “ums” than a debate
class full of high school freshman. I’m pretty sure I saw his eyes
light up when Matt used the word “cocaine” in his song.

was the first finalist announced, and the ensuing commercial break gave
everyone in the theater a chance to utter a collective “What the fuck?”
Chris was announced next, followed by Casey. Matt smiled the whole
time, sensing that the jig was up as soon as he heard Nicole was safe.
But if Wynonna and Anastasia have anything to say about it, this won’t
be the last we’ve heard from Matt Mason. Well, it’s probably the last
I’ll hear of him, since I only listen to country when this show is on.

For next week’s finale, Big & Rich return as guest judges. Apparently, the cast of Law & Order: SVU
was unavailable, since the show usually grasps for every TV network or
music label cross-promotion it can get. The guest performer is Cowboy
Troy, again because the cast of Law & Order: SVU was unavailable — except Ice T, but who wants to hear him? Go to the Nashville Star website to vote for your favorite singer and the song you’d like to hear him or her perform next week.

Blood on the Walls (Episode 5-9)

“I thought she was a star,” Donald Trump said several times about
Andrea. But the other women of Synergy verbally savaged Andrea in the boardroom, leaving Trump no choice but to fire her at the end of this
week’s Apprentice.

was amazing that Synergy lost, considering Charmaine’s determination to
see Gold Rush Project Manager Lee fail at almost any cost. But
Charmaine’s spitefulness proved no match for Andrea’s poor graphic
design skills and sourpuss attitude.

Teams were given the task
of creating a souvenir brochure to raise money for the Statue of
Liberty/Ellis Island Foundation. Ameriquest donated $10,000 to the
foundation as sponsor of this task, an amount equal to roughly half of
the weekly tab that company execs expense at Tavern on the Green for
corporate luncheons.

Synergy, led by Allie again, took the ferry
to Ellis Island to shoot photos and gather information for the
brochure. While trying to fend off Andrea’s irrelevant questions, Tammy
left her research notebook at the information desk. She and Allie
hopped off the ferry to retrieve the book. When they returned to the
dock, the ferry was already headed back to Manhattan, leaving them
stranded for a couple hours.

This opened the door for Andrea to
really screw things up. She’d convinced Allie that she was a “graphics
expert,” and thus wasted two hours directing a professional graphic
designer to create an ugly brochure. Allie and Tammy made it to the
office to discover that they essentially needed to start from scratch.

in the face of criticism, Andrea told Allie, “Just get it done. It’ll
be perfect. It’ll be great,” and walked out of the room.

after five consecutive butt-kickings, Gold Rush had no such problems.
Tarek and Michael created a spiffy brochure, and Lee and Charmaine
called area hotels, reasoning that if they could get one outfit to buy
brochures in bulk, it would be hard to lose.

Energized by their
impressive brochure, Gold Rush staked out the sales location early —
the ferry terminal at Battery Park. The captive audience eagerly bought
the brochure on their way to Ellis Island. And, later in the day, one
of the hotels called Charmaine back and purchased 100 brochures.

sleepers Synergy arrived at Battery Park to find that most of the ferry
passengers had already purchased from Gold Rush, and those that hadn’t
weren’t interested in their inferior, more expensive product. The team
decided to try their luck selling on Ellis Island. Their luck remained

After turning off customers with her whimpering sales
pitch, Andrea told Allie that her skills would be better used trying to
make bulk sales. “I actually make several million dollars each year in
bulk sales,” she said. When Allie’s head stopped spinning, she told
Andrea that she should’ve brought that up yesterday, instead of an hour
before the task deadline.

Gold Rush triumphed, raising $1550 to
Synergy’s $840. Their reward was a round of golf with super-pro Vijay
Singh, who was disappointed that he couldn’t personally fire any of

In a planning session before the boardroom, Allie,
Roxanne, and Tammy tried to persuade Sean to join them in pinning the
failure solely on Andrea. The producers told Andrea to go eavesdrop —
er, I mean, Andrea happened to overhear the conversation. She then
wandered around muttering, “Those bitches lied about me,” until Sean
reassured her that at least he wouldn’t sell her out.

Allie was
undeterred in her quest, promising a slaughter in the boardroom: “There
will be blood on the walls. There will be f***ing blood everywhere!”
And Trump will bottle and market it to vampires as “Trumpsfusion.”

Synergy girls maintained their united front in front of Trump,
portraying Andrea as counterproductive, hard to work with, and a lousy
salesperson. Trump’s viceroys, daughter Ivanka and son Donald Jr.,
joined the fray, criticizing Andrea for not mentioning her bulk sales
experience when it would’ve made a difference.

Trump said that,
as of a few weeks ago, he never would have considered getting rid of
Andrea this soon. But, after what he’d heard in the boardroom, he fired
Andrea for wrecking her team’s chemistry. He congratulated his viceroys
by telling them, “Good job, kids.”

Andrea proved that she wasn’t
a totally unfeeling witch in the cab ride. Through tears and sniffles,
she said, “I guess there’s a reason why I work by myself.” If only she
would’ve shown some emotions earlier, it might have been Allie in the
cab instead.

Next week, Sean adds Tammy to his harem.

DWTS Offseason Update: 4-21-06

Drew Hosts Miss USA (Tonight!)
Tonight, Drew Lachey co-hosts the Miss USA Pageant with Nancy O’Dell. The show airs at 9/8 central on NBC. When asked by People magazine if daughter Isabella might be a future Miss USA, Drew replied, “She can do whatever she wants to do in life, as long as it doesn’t require a pole!”

Jam With Cheryl in Las Vegas
Cheryl Burke will be one of many celebrities at this year’s Tiger Jam in Las Vegas. The event benefits The Tiger Woods Foundation, as well as numerous other charities. Information on purchasing tickets for the event, including a concert by Sting, is available at the Tiger Jam website.

Stern’s Girlfriend on Season 3?
On Howard Stern’s Tuesday morning radio program, he revealed details of an offer made to his girlfriend, model Beth Ostrosky, to appear on DWTS 3. According to Stern, the base pay for celebrities is $125,000, with the potential to earn $245,000 if they reach the finale. Drew Lachey reacted to the news by calling the low salary, relative to ratings, “ridiculous.”

Mother’s Day with the Stars
If you’ve got $600 to spend on Mom this year, Santa Monica hotels Shutters on the Beach and Casa del Mar promise to Sweep Her Off Her Feet. A special Mother’s Day weekend package of spa treatments and ballroom lessons includes a special session with John O’Hurley and Giselle Fernandez on Friday, May 12.

No Deuce. No Bruce. (Episode 12-10)

Exile Island has spent more time focused on excrement than any other season of Survivor.  A theme that began pre-merge, when Bobby christened the Casaya outhouse, continued this week, as an impacted colon forced Bruce to leave the game.

episode got off to a rocky start, as Bruce complained of a stomach ache
the morning after Sally’s elimination. Apparently, he hadn’t had a
bowel movement in more than ten days — not since before the Reward
trip to the Panamanian village. He said he couldn’t “pass a deuce.” As a result, he was in so much pain, he was having trouble walking.

had just enough energy to prepare for the day’s Reward Challenge.
Castaways were given voodoo dolls to decorate in their own likeness.
Cirie used wadded-up vegetation to give her 3-foot-tall doll huge
breasts. Danielle used artificial plants for hers.

The challenge
itself required the Survivors to answer poll questions about their
tribemates. After writing down their answers, everyone turned them into
host Jeff Probst, who tabulated the answers. Then, they were asked the
same questions again, but needed to answer with what they guessed was
the consensus of the rest of the group.

A correct answer earned
each contestant the right to cut a one length of rope that withheld a
torch from striking an opponent’s voodoo doll. After three lengths of
rope were cut, the doll would get torched, and its corporeal
counterpart was out of the game. A variation of this “choose which of
your buddies to knock out” game is played every season, and usually the
most liked or feared tribe member is left at the end.

The order
in which contestants were taken out by their tribemates wasn’t much of
a surprise, as Terry fell first, followed by Bruce, Courtney, and
Danielle. It was the answers to the questions that surprised several of
the castaways:

  1. Who does the least around camp – Danielle
  2. Who never shuts up – Courtney
  3. Who mistakenly thinks they run the show – Shane
  4. Who would you trust with your life – Cirie
  5. Who wouldn’t you trust to watch your back – Terry
  6. Who’s the biggest poser – Courtney
  7. Who’s the moodiest – Shane
  8. Who succumbs to intimidation – Courtney
  9. Who’s the most annoying – Courtney
  10. Who would never survive on their own – Cirie

who’s too self-involved to have any idea how she’s perceived, was
stunned that people thought she was annoying. And Shane, the initiator
for every vote and alliance, said he wasn’t trying to run the show.

string of correct answers allowed Cirie to knock Shane and Aras out,
winning her and two tribemates of her choosing an overnight trip to a
spa. She was also given the choice of who to send to Exile Island. Out
of loyalty to her old tribe, she sent Terry away, and then asked Aras
and Danielle to join her on the trip, based on prior promises.

excluded, despite what he thought was a close friendship with Cirie,
sent Shane into a fit. He kicked sand and stomped around, responding to
Cirie’s sheepish, “I’m sorry,” with a pouty, “You are sorry!”

tantrum and Courtney’s stunned expression after hearing her name as the
answer to multiple questions gave Cirie, Aras, and Danielle plenty to
laugh about as they enjoyed a helicopter ride, mud massages, and more
food than even Aras could finish — though he tried his best to eat
everything they were served.

That night at camp, Bruce’s
abdominal pain became so intense that he asked for medical attention.
Courtney tried to soothe Bruce by singing to him, but he was able to
whimper, “Don’t,” saving himself and viewers from further agony.

arrived by boat and felt Bruce’s condition warranted a trip to the
hospital. A totally nude Shane helped carry Bruce on a stretcher to the

The winners of the reward challenge returned in the morning
and got the scoop on Bruce from Courtney. Shane started pouting again,
until Aras and Cirie reassured him that they would all be in the final
four together.

On the morning of what should’ve been the Immunity
Challenge, a boat brought Terry back to camp from Exile Island. Jeff
was with him, and he filled everyone in on Bruce’s status.

the hospital, doctors had discovered that Bruce’s entire digestive
system, including his colon and bladder, was blocked. Bruce would be
okay, but he could not return as a competitor. As a result, the day’s
Immunity Challenge was cancelled. This was effectively an Immunity win
for Terry, who likely would have been voted out at Tribal Coucil — and
would have had to use the hidden Immunity Idol to stay in the game.

doctors planned to evaluate Bruce’s condition before the next Tribal
Council to determine if he was well enough to serve as a jury member.
Jeff didn’t clarify what would happen if the answer was no, but Nick,
who just missed being a jury member, would be a likely choice to take
Bruce’s place.

After Jeff left, everyone talked about Bruce as if
he were dead. The women cleared debris from Bruce’s rock garden and
arranged rocks to read, “Bruce” and “Luv U.” In place of the customary
exit interview to close the show, producers showed footage of Bruce
practicing karate on Exile Island.

Next week, Cirie fights with a
fish. And Shane develops his own, more technically savvy, version of
Season One’s coconut phone: a BlackBerry handheld
device made from a block of wood.

BJ and Tyler of Arabia (Episode 9-8)

Don’t worry. BJ & Tyler are still on The Amazing Race. They’re just broke and have a whole lot less to carry.

this week’s episode, it didn’t take the Hippies long to work their way
back into the race from last place. Teams flew from Athens, Greece to
Muscat, Oman, where they all waited until the 6 a.m. opening of a park
with a giant incense burner.

It’s probably safe to assume that
most Americans aren’t too familiar with Oman (who is not the woman
married to David Bowie), and the teams took the time to appreciate the
country’s cleanliness. Frat Guy Jeremy remarked that even the
McDonald’s looked like “a temple McDonald’s.”

When the park
opened, teams found a clue that instructed them to drive 135 miles to
the city of Sur. Ray & Yolanda fell behind, as their arguing
hampered their navigating skills.

All of the teams took things
slowly driving across two flooded roadways. At the first flood, a tiny,
old guy everyone described as “ripped” guided the vehicles across.
Monica said she wanted to take the guy home in her pocket.

no one to guide them across the second flood, pack leaders MoJo and the
Hippies dared each other to go first. The Frat Guys didn’t feel like
waiting and forded ahead, taking the lead. Tyler prophesied that one
day, the Frats would know what it was like to finish last.

they arrived in Sur, teams were given a choice of Detours: “Camel” or
“Watch Towers.” MoJo, the Hippies, and Fran & Barry elected to do
“Watch Towers,” which required them to find out which of three ancient
towers held silver message boxes. Teams would receive their clue after
delivering a box to a silver shop one mile away.

The Hippies and
Fran & Barry decided not to look in the closest tower first, and
were rewarded by finding their boxes on the first try. When MoJo
realized how much time they’d already wasted in choosing one wrong
tower, they gave up and switched to “Camel.”

In “Camel,” teams
used a pulley system to hoist a camel onto the back of a pickup truck.
They then used a hand-drawn map to find a village one mile away, where
they received their next clue.

The Frats, who’d chosen to do
“Camel” right away and had loaded their animal quickly, misread their
map and became totally lost. MoJo found the village right away and were
off to their next location, the town of Al Hawiya, 80 miles away.

the Frats finally delivered their camel, Ray & Yolanda arrived at
the Detour. They loaded and delivered their camel with no problem, but
they were still well behind the other teams.

In Al Hawiya, a
Road Block forced one team member to dig through 107 mounds of sand
looking for one of five that hid an underground oven. They had to be
careful while extracting the oven’s contents, as the woven bag filled
with chicken would be their dinner that night.

BJ and Barry were
the first to undertake the frustrating task, made worse by the
sweltering desert heat. MoJo and the Frats arrived shortly thereafter,
and Monica was first to finish. Soon, Barry and Eric found their
dinners as well, leaving Tyler with plenty of time to befriend a noisy
camel, as BJ struggled to dig through the mounds.

Ray &
Yolanda arrived as the Frats left the parking lot. After arriving first
and watching all but one team finish before him, BJ started snapping
back at Tyler, whose frequent cheers were more grating than encouraging
at that point. Yolanda dug in the sand nearby, muttering, “You tell
him, BJ.”

Yolanda found her bag of dinner next, adding to BJ’s
misery. He kept digging and eventually found his, but over an hour of
strenuous labor had drained his peppy spirit. The teams raced 150 miles
to the Pit Stop at Jabreen Castle.

Along the way, the Frats
decided to take a short cut, only to discover that the map led them
over dirt roads in the middle of nowhere. They lost time backtracking
to the highway, and it looked as if Tyler’s prophecy from earlier in
the show might come true.

MoJo lost time as well by stopping to
ask for directions to the castle, which was straight ahead of them.
That allowed Fran & Barry to zip by and finish in first place.
Their prize was a trip to Rome.

A second place finish was a
disappointment for MoJo, and Ray & Yolanda weren’t much happier
after spending two days at each other’s throats. Miraculously, Eric
& Jeremy made it back to civilization and finished in fourth, a
little wiser after their near-fatal mistake of thinking they could
outwit a map.

The Hippies arrived in last, landing on the mat
wearing an extra layer of clothing. Their suspicions were right, as
this was the first non-elimination of this season. Phil took their
backpacks and money, and they will start the next leg with $0.

& Tyler may not have much trouble raising funds next week. They
were the only team to learn how to say “Thank you,” in Arabic, and a
little effort with the language always goes a long way. Plus, they have
the advantage of being, in the words of Tyler, “BJ & Tyler of

Teams fly to the west coast of Australia next week,
where Joseph uses his top-notch motivational skills to keep Monica on
task. We’ll see if Dr. Phil, Jr., can again come up with something as
inspiring as, “Lift up your spirit before I get pissed.”

Chill Bumps (Episode 4-6)

Nicole Jamrose may have been spared tonight on Nashville Star,
at wee Jared Ashley’s expense, but she only earned a one week reprieve.
After rocking out every week until now, Nicole decided to slow things
down, and the results weren’t pretty. She’s the next one out, no doubt
about it.

Casey Rivers and his skimpy soul patch also slowed
things down, but with greater success. He even gave judge Phil Vassar a
hybrid of goose bumps and chills called “chill bumps.”

sounded his best on ballads, which leaves some doubt as to whether he
can really rock. How does he plan to ease those doubts next week? By
performing “How Great Thou Art.”

When I think “gospel singer,” a
white frat guy is not the first image that pops into my head. Prepare
for an embarrassing scoop up to the note on the word “soul.” That will
pave the way for Matt Mason and Chris Young to boot-scoot their way
into the final two.

Matt had one of his better performances,
singing Johnny Cash’s song, “Folsom Prison Blues.” He even changed the
words to, “I shot a Nashville Star judge just to watch him
die,” got a laugh from Phil and Anastasia. He needs to keep doing his
Johnny Cash impression to keep the nasal quality out of his voice.

blew the other contestants out of the water, even with a forgettable
song. His biggest advantage is that he always sounds like Chris Young
no matter what he sings, something the others haven’t learned how to do

Chris’s biggest competition for the night was actually
Phil, who, accompanied by the contestants, performed a medley of his
hits to promote the upcoming release of his Greatest Hits album. Unfortunately, Phil was so good that it showed just how far the five hopefuls have to go before they sound like pros.

sponsor Wal-Mart would like you to know that you can help fund their
campaign to quietly destroy smalltown America by trading your
foodstamps for Phil’s album at the cashwrap of one of their
soul-sucking monoliths. While you’re there, you can buy a copy of an
album by this week’s guest performer, Trace Atkins. And I’m sure the
band Velvet Revolver has an album available at Wal-Mart, too. Why else
would band members Scott Weiland and Duff McKagan be serving as guest
judges next week, unless it’s to warn the contestants to stay off drugs?

More than one corporate giant used Nashville Star to promote their product. Tonight’s guest judge was NBC’s Celebrity Cooking Showdown contestant Patti LaBelle. Next week, we’ll probably learn that guest performer Hank Williams Jr. has a bit part on Scrubs, and that Wynonna’s much cooler sister Ashley, who’s stopping by to say hello, is going to be a briefcase holder on Deal or No Deal.

The Next Food Network Star

There’s a subgenre of reality shows built on the premise that there are
talented people in America who could, and should, become stars if just given the
chance: American Idol, Project Runway, and Star Search, for example. The Next Food Network Star is proof that the subgenre’s premise is wrong.

your own TV show, record deal, etc. typically involves years spent
perfecting your craft, jumping through hoops set up by the companies in
power, and making sure you meet the right people at the right time.

reality subgenre bypasses the traditional method. Presumably, everyone
cast on these shows has some credentials, but they haven’t done the
jumping-through-hoops, meeting-the-right-people parts of the process.

those parts are an integral part of making someone a success.
Undertaking the bureaucratic tasks allows time for candidates to find
out how to fit into the system. If they fit the system, they are more
marketable, and what is more important to large corporations than

If candidates are not willing to do the work to get a
contract the traditional way, they probably don’t have the drive to
really succeed, even if given the opportunity. And, truthfully, if they
were talented enough, someone would’ve noticed along the way.

This is why few winners of any of these shows have gone on to serious stardom. In five seasons, the only American Idol
winner with sustained chart impact is Kelly Clarkson. Bill Rancic, the
original Apprentice, is best known for his appearances on subsequent
seasons of The Apprentice. And the winners of the first season of The Next Food Network Star, Dan and Steve, have been judged almost universally as failures.

and Guy, this season’s finalists, are no different. Both of them seem
like perfectly nice, competent individuals, but they lack that
intangible star power. That they were judged the best amongst their
competitors is not necessarily an achievement to be proud of.

is an accomplished chef, whose delicious looking cuisine would surely
please most restaurant patrons. But his show idea, “Off the Hook,”
lacks focus and originality.

His spiky hair, loud shirts, and
fast paced delivery are meant to convey his exciting personality. But,
as he’s shown over the course of the show, there’s just not that much
to Guy. His bold style masks a lack of substance.

deficiency was most apparent when he pitched his show to Food Network
execs. He promised to take a core demographic of 18-35 year olds to the
“wild side” of cooking, including how to recreate the fun food they
love to eat at concerts and ballparks in their own home.

But he
missed an obvious problem with his idea: that demographic eats out so
that they don’t have to cook for themselves. It’s not terribly hard to
recreate popcorn and hotdogs, anyway. And he never did define what
“wild” means in terms of cooking.

Guy came close to showing us
“wild” on last night’s two-hour road to the final two. He made sushi
rolls without either seaweed or raw fish, he fried up a
tequila-marinated turkey breast, and he stirred up an ice cream pie
topped with Junior Mints. Until last night, none of his dishes had been
close to “wild,” so it’s hard to believe he really has enough ideas to
build a show around.

Reggie’s proposed show suffers from a
similar lack of focus. “Simply Spectacular,” the working title, doesn’t
describe what the show is about, unlike network stalwarts 30 Minute Meals or Semi-Homemade Cooking. And are those shows any less simple or spectacular than Reggie’s?

a while, Reggie billed his cuisine as Southern comfort food with city
style, but his herb-roasted chicken and pot pie didn’t waver much from
traditional recipes. And focusing on Southern foods would put him in
direct competition with reigning queen of the Food Network, Paula Dean.
I know who I’m putting my money on in that fight.

sensitive problem hurts Reggie’s chances for success: his weight. Few
of the chefs on Food Network are slim, but Reggie is obese. It’s
something viewers notice immediately about him, and it may make them
wonder, “Is that what his food will do to me?”

It’s a tricky
problem for the network, and for Reggie, because it’s not something
that can be solved easily or in a short period of time, and it’s not
something that can be ignored. On two separate occasions during this
season, writers for TV Guide praised ousted contestants
Nathan and Carissa for looking fit, saying (without saying) that they
looked the part of a TV host. That praise helped Nathan and Carissa
coast to spots in the final four with Reggie and Guy.

The same
writers emphasized Reggie’s great personality, which is code for,
“First, we noticed his looks, but he won us over anyway.” It’s a
compliment to Reggie as a person, but it’s a signal that he may have to
work extra hard to earn an audience.

That said, there’s still a
good chance that Reggie’s engaging personality will triumph over Guy’s
caffeinated mannerisms and wild food. After filming demo segments of
his show, the crew and judges in attendance cheered loudly for Reggie.
Guy only received a modest round of applause.

The winner will be
determined by audience voting, and will be announced on Sunday night’s
finale. Cast your vote through Thursday at